Manipulation of desires in The Iliad.

Essay by thomas16crownCollege, UndergraduateA, November 2003

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In Book IX of The Iliad by Homer, Agamemnon gives gifts to Achilles to get help. Therefore, Agamemnon tries to bribe Achilles into following his agenda. By giving specific gifts to fulfill personal desires, apparent weaknesses are opened up in an attempt to manipulate them. The first desire, sex, targets instinct and is represented by the gifts of women; the second desire, pride/honor, targets ego and is represented by political power and control over cities; the third desire, wealth, targets motivation and is represented by gold and money. All these desires can be manipulated in order to attempt to gain a certain goal.

A deeply rooted desire in our instinct is sex, represented by the women Agamemnon gives to Achilles. Women, to the Greeks, were of great importance; Therefore, Ajax tries to convince Achilles to join the king's cause by mocking him when he rejects the gifts of women, in essence trying to get at his pride, "And for one girl, of whose fair sex we come to offer sev'n/The most exempt for excellence, and many a better prize" (Book IX, Line 603-604) However, Achilles does have a weakness for women and he does desire them, since he is upset Brisis was taken from him, "As much as they, as I myself lov'd Brisis as my life/Although my captive, and had will to take her for my wife" (Book IX, Line 330-331) Therefore, because Agamemnon sees Achilles' desire for women, he tries to offer him many women in order to manipulate his weaknesses and get him to join forces with him once again; the gifts are seven dames from Lesbos who were "Renown'd for skill in housewifery, and bear the sovereign flames/For beauty, from their general sex; which at thy overthrow" (Book IX, Line 265-266), twenty 'beauteous' Trojan...